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Vote Like Your Mental Health Depends On It

There's not much time left until the General Election on November 3, 2020 and voting in 2020 is especially important as it is a presidential year.

Click here to download shareable graphics on voting and mental health

Things to keep in mind 

Engaging candidates

If you want to engage with candidates and their campaigns directly, you can find upcoming events and appearances here. They need to know what’s on your mind—and that you vote.

Become a poll worker

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a shortage of poll workers available to help people vote during election day. If you are someone who is low-risk for COVID-19, consider volunteering your time. In some areas, poll workers also receive some financial compensation for their time.

Learn more

Registration deadlines

Click here for your state registration deadlines and then scroll down to register, check your registration, sign up for election reminders, and request an absentee ballot.

Absentee/mail-in ballots

Due to slowed delivery of mail by the U.S. Postal Service, we encourage everyone who plans to vote to request absentee/mail-in ballots as soon as possible and to complete and mail off ballots as soon as you receive them.

Voting in-person

If you're planning to vote in-person, try to vote early and ensure that you take preventative measures against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to view an early voting calendar by state

Check how COVID-19 has impacted your state

The COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding quickly and there are changes daily so check to see how your state has been impacted.

Never forget how much your vote matters.

Why your vote matters for mental health

Vote, because your vote will determine how much funding will go into mental health.

  • Your vote could decide the future of Medicaid, the single largest funder of mental health services in the country. 
  • Depending on the state's political and economic climate, states will play a more or less substantial role in funding comprehensive mental health services.
  • Over 26 million individuals experiencing a mental health illness are going untreated, and cost of treatment continues to be a barrier to getting care.

    SOURCES: US Census Bureau, Mental Health America, IBID

Vote, because there aren't enough mental health professionals to provide care.

  • Nationally, over 119  million people in the United States live in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas, which are areas in which the ratio of mental health professionals to residents is less than 1 per 30,000 people.
  • Unmet need is worst for the psychiatric specialty: the US has a national average of 15.6 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, but the ratio is significantly worse in rural areas, at just 3.4 psychiatrists per 100,000 people. 

    SOURCES: Human Resources and Services Administration, Mental Health America

Vote, because we need trained mental health professionals and peers to respond to mental health emergencies and crises.

  • More funding needs to be directed into providing mobile crisis response teams made up of mental health professionals and peers and linking to peer-run crisis respite or psychiatric urgent care centers, reducing the role of law enforcement, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and Medicaid expenditures. 

    SOURCES: National Institute of Health, Mental Health America, Center for Peer Support

Vote, because mental healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.

  • The protections provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be maintained. The ACA allowed many who were previously excluded due to “pre-existing conditions” to obtain coverage.
  • Even under the ACA, over 4.7 million adults with a mental illness remain uninsured and 22% of all adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed.
  • Healthcare reform must include comprehensive health insurance coverage to all Americans that affords access to mental health and substance use services.

    SOURCE: Mental Health America, IBID

Vote, because jails and prisons should not be a solution to a mental health crisis.

  • Jails and prisons have become some of the largest institutions providing psychiatric care in the US.
  • Jails and prisons can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and prisoners and jail inmates with existing mental health conditions receive little or no behavioral health care or treatment.

    SOURCES: National Research Council, Prison Policy Initiative, Mental Health America

Vote, because we need more counselors in schools and less handcuffs.

  • 14 million students are in schools with police but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker.
  • Schools with adequate numbers of nurses, counselors, and psychologists see higher rates of school attendance and graduation, greater academic achievement, and lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents which overwhelmingly affect students of color and ultimately contribute to the school to prison pipeline. 

    SOURCE: American Civil Liberties Union, IBID

Candidates on Key Issues

Issue Where they stand
Opioid Epidemic

President Trump declared a national public health emergency in 2017 and has renewed it repeatedly since then. His proposed 2021 budget would decrease total funding to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and to Medicaid, the nation’s largest payer for mental health services and main contributor for substance use disorder services. Vice President Biden’s campaign website features a five-point plan to address the opioid crisis that would increase access to services, curb unnecessary opioid prescriptions, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the crisis.

Suicide Prevention

Both candidates’ suicide prevention plans focus on veterans, with President Trump creating a task force to tackle the issue and proposing to boost the Veterans Administration (VA) budget for suicide prevention. Vice President Biden proposes to expand and strengthen veterans’ mental health programs inside and outside the VA, as well as strengthen programs aimed at reducing suicide among LGBTQ teenagers.

Mental Health Parity

Vice President Biden’s campaign vows to redouble efforts to enforce existing mental health parity laws and expand funding for mental health, but has not offered specific plans. President Trump’s campaign website does not address mental health parity. His administration is seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would substantially limit the scope of parity rules.

Mental Health Workforce

Neither candidate specifically addresses mental health workforce shortages on their campaign websites. However, President Trump’s 2021 budget proposal includes a 24% increase for behavior health workforce development programs, and Vice President Biden’s education plan would double the number of psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals in schools.


Election 2020: Where Trump and Biden Stand on Mental Health and Substance Use Issues

COVID-19, Mental Health, and the 2020 Election: A Review of Candidate Platforms